The Q&A Archives: Planting prepackaged dormant roses

Question: I purchased a dormant rose bush. When is the best time to plant it and what type of soil should I use? After planting, should I also put red mulch around it?

Answer: The dormant roses should be kept dormant until planting. This means it must be stored in a cool location (above freezing but below 45 degrees.) Plant as soon as possible. Heap soil (taken from elsewhere in the yard) over the base of the plant until the freezing weather is past and the buds begin to swell. Then gradually remove the extra soil.

If it has already started to leaf out you need to plant it right away. Since the weather may not be settled yet, you should plant it in a container. Use a large container that will hold the root system without crowding and a potting mix formulated for container plants. Keep moist until you can plant it in the ground. Set it outside on mild days so it can be in the sun. Bring it inside to a cool but sheltered place when temperatures are below freezing.

When you plant the rose outside, select a location that is in full sun all day long or at least half a day including the noon hour. Plant it in a well drained spot, meaning not a low, wet area. Loosen the soil over a wide area several feet across and about as deep as the roots. Plant the rose with the graft several inches below the soil surface, then firm the soil around the roots. Water deeply to settle the soil. Mulch with several inches of organic mulch in a flat layer over the root area. You can also topdress with compost.

The most important thing you can do for your new rose is to water correctly. Keep the soil slightly moist like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet and never dried out.

Enjoy your new rose!

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